top of page

Ovarian Cancer Staging

Ovarian cancer staging is determined by your doctor at the time of surgery. The different stages describe the level of tumor cell involvement and how widespread the cancer is. Women with ovarian cancer are frequently diagnosed at Stage IIIC. This is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often ignored or misdiagnosed until urgent issues arise.


The Stages Of Ovarian Cancer

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)
Ovarian Cancer Staging - Effective January 1, 2014

“Stage I

Tumor confined to ovaries.

Stage IA

Tumor limited to one ovary, capsule intact, no tumor on surface, negative washings.
Stage IB

Tumor involves both ovaries otherwise like IA.

Stage IC

The tumor is limited to one or both ovaries:
IC1 - Surgical spill; IC2 - Capsule rupture before surgery or tumor on ovarian surface; IC3 - Malignant cells in the ascites or peritoneal washings.



Stage II

Tumor involves 1 or both ovaries with pelvic extension (below pelvic brim) or primary peritoneal cancer.

Stage IIA

Extension and/or implant on uterus and/or Fallopian tubes.

Stage IIB

Extension to other pelvic intraperitoneal tissues.

Stage III

Tumor involves 1 or both ovaries with cytologically or histologically confirmed spread to the peritoneum outside the pelvis and/or metastasis to the retroperitoneal lymph nodes.

Stage IIIA – Positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes and/or microscopic metastasis beyond the pelvis.

Stage IIIA1

Positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes only.

Stage IIIA2

Microscopic, extrapelvic (above the brim) peritoneal involvement ± positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB

Macroscopic, extrapelvic, peritoneal metastasis (<) less than 2 cm ± positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes. Includes extension to capsule of liver/spleen.

Stage IIIC

Macroscopic, extrapelvic, peritoneal metastasis (>) greater than 2 cm ± positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes. Includes extension to capsule of liver/spleen.


Stage IV

Distant metastasis excluding peritoneal metastasis.

Stage IVA

Pleural effusion with positive cytology.

Stage IVB

Hepatic and/or splenic parenchymal metastasis, metastasis to extra-abdominal organs (including inguinal lymph nodes and lymph nodes outside of the abdominal cavity).


Other major recommendations are as follows:

  • Histologic type including grading should be designated at staging.

  • Primary site (ovary, Fallopian tube or peritoneum) should be designated where possible.

  • Tumors that may otherwise qualify for stage I but involved with dense adhesions justify upgrading to stage II if tumor cells are histologically proven to be present in the adhesions.”




Recurrent ovarian cancer

This means that the disease went away with treatment but then came back (recurred).


bottom of page